It Was a Hard Week

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Losing the battle

We speak of it as being a ‘battle with cancer’. Like all battles, it requires an army, each division with its special task, each soldier with a mission to which he devotes his heart and soul. Each ‘soldier’s very being becomes linked to those he helps. Help comes in many different forms.  Therapy, living quarters near the clinic, meals, rides. The list goes on and on. This is no 9-5 job where work-related info disappears from the employee or volunteer’s radar as he exits the office.

 

Shopping for his family at the supermarket, Avi, an Ezer Mizion Linked to Life volunteer,  spots a candy bar that little Yossi likes and, with an unmanly sob, he adds it to his cart. (Yossi’s Mommy used to buy him that candy every Sabbath but now Yossi’s Mommy is …) His phone rings and the shopping cart gets shoved into a corner. The store manager will understand. It’s happened before. His wife will surely understand. She had been tearfully praying when he left the house. It’s Moshe. He needs a ride to the hospital.  Now. They just called. His wife has only hours to live. He knew it was coming but when it does…oh,  it’s so hard. He will be needed for much more than the ride. He and his fellow Linked 2 Life members had supported the family in so many ways for months. “Hashem, give him strength,” he fervently prays as he rushes to his car.

 

Many weeks are filled with joy like when a child wins his battle with leukemia and L2L members drive the family and accumulated paraphernalia home from the hospital.  Soon the child will join his friends in their games, a boy like any other boy. A celebratory parade as they enter the home, each one carrying packages, almost dancing up the stairs. Or when we’re invited to a bris by a young father who had been afraid his baby would be named after him. He’s cured now. The nightmare is over.

 

Other weeks are not so. Like this past one. Ora died this week. She had been part of the lives of so many Linked to Life volunteers in Rechasim and Haifa. Her conversation was never about her pain, her anguish. It was only about how grateful she was to each person for everything done for her family.

“Mere words cannot express my thanks to you for all your help and support. Hashem, in His great compassion and immeasurable love sent me such special agents as yourselves. I bless you all from the bottom of my heart that Hashem should repay you in kind, grant you health, happiness, and success in all your endeavors and nachat from the children. May good and kindness pursue you your entire lives.”

These words were written to Ezer Mizion just a few months ago by Ora a”h.

We rallied. We tried to smooth the way for them, do the little extras to bring some sunshine into their numbered days together. The medical staff fought hard. We fought hard to keep up their spirits. And we lost. Ora is gone.  Ezer Mizion will be there for the family, with the practical, with the emotional as long as we’re needed. We’ll be their cushion, their pillar.

It was a hard week.  There was a family at Ezer Mizion’s Summer Camp whose mother spent the time in bed on pain killers, under the supervision of medical staff, coming out for meals and some low-key activities. How gratifying to have been the catalyst for fortifying the family as they shared an enjoyable time together… their last. A day before camp ended, the mother was hospitalized. The children stayed on to finish camp. Ezer Mizion was with the children when they were told the bitter news of their mother’s demise. The younger ones hugged each other in a bundle of grief and said: “Ezer Mizion will help Abba and us. They never leave us to be alone!”

 

It was a hard week. A single mother of young children. Another young mother. And a sixteen year old boy with a brain tumor. Four young mothers and one young boy in one week.

 

Hashem, please give all of us at Ezer Mizion strength to be their strength. And Hashem, please hold them tight in Your embrace. Hug them. Comfort them. And wipe away all their tears.

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Strike A Match

pr weddingAlone. In a virtual corner, separated from their peers, feeling ostracized, not quite as valued. One by one, their friends become engaged but they remain.

They have so much to offer. So much to give to a relationship. Yet people shy away from the marriage. Fearful of the unknown. Continue reading Strike A Match

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A Letter Meant for You, Our Dear Friends and Supporters

pr mental illness flower MB900445658Dear Sir, Madam,
It has been nearly a year since
our repatriation to Israel.
Sadly, the joy of our reuniting
with the Motherland has been tragically
damaged by the dramatic diagnosis –
we are both ill with the stage 4 cancer,
currently desperately fighting for our lives.
Our treatments are taking place at the oncological
centre “Davidoff” in Petah Tikva led by the amazing doctor
(or better to say-magician) Victoria Neiman.
It will be very hard to express by words all that valuable help
and support that we are receiving here in Israel, not only from the government
but also from kind and very responsive people, like the staff at Ezer Mizion, who care about the life tragedies of the others.
It was so hard not to cry when we received your Rosh Hashanah presents!
We have never seen so much care and attention before.
The fact that people who have never met us before were able to be so kind
touched us enormously. Your kind deeds give powers to those
who are having to fight the horrible illness. By offering your help
you don’t just provide the presents, for which we are so thankful.
But more importantly, you give us hope to live and feeling that we are not alone,
that we became part of the Jewish Nation that our real Home is here.
Let your kindness and generosity come back to you in multiple numbers,
let your business grow successfully and let your friends and family be happy.
We wish you all the best, health and lots of warmth and light on your ways!
With many-many thanks,
Best regards
Tatyana and Iryna pr mental illness flower MB900445658

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Flying High

Cancer is hard. A child whose worst complaint should be ‘too much homework’ is suddenly confronted with what no child should ever know.   He finds himself in strange surroundings with his body doing strange things. He hears whispered fragments of his parents’ conversations. He witnesses children who shared the chemo experience with him suddenly disappearing and no one wants to tell him where they went.  He’s scared. Confused. Anxious about the future. Will he have a future? He tries to block such thoughts but late at night, in the dark, they come creeping out of their hiding places.

CHOC_Childrens-Hospital FKP Architects

And his siblings do not have it much better. A bedtime talk with Mommy when the hidden questions can safely be asked is a thing of the past. Mommy is always at the hospital or talking nervously to doctors on the phone. Suppers arrive from strangers. No one is home to help with homework. And worst of all is the terror – that dark shadow that permeates every corner of their home. Continue reading Flying High

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Nightmare: the Common Denominator

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Giving bits and pieces of childhood back to kids that have lost theirs

It’s 1:30 on a long summer Friday afternoon. There are twelve vehicles parked in the parking lot of Park Enav in Modi’in.  The doors open and fifty-eight (!) children burst out of the cars ready for an afternoon of fun. Who are they?

Each one has a different story but the common denominator is that each one is living through a nightmare that no child should ever know. One has lost a parent to cancer, another is battling cancer himself and a third came home one day to find that his mother had gone on a simple shopping trip never to come home again due to a terror attack. Continue reading Nightmare: the Common Denominator

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Bar Mitzvah Celebration?

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Bar Mitzvah celebration?

A young mother in Rechasim is battling cancer but that doesn’t stop the date of her son’s Bar Mitzvah from coming closer and closer. What the family had looked forward to for years promises to be a day of despair. Celebration? How does one celebrate when…when…? And so the days on the calendar rolled on and the Bar Mitzvah was scheduled for a Sunday in mid-April. Bar Mitzvah? One hundred people were invited but there was no joy. Both finances and mood precluded ordering any amenities including food! A bleak celebration indeed.   Continue reading Bar Mitzvah Celebration?

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Because of You!

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March 2018 – EZER MIZION Saves 30 Lives!

In March 2018, Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry facilitated THIRTY lifesaving stem cell transplants – for a total of 2,772 lives saved to date!

Patients were from the following countries:Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, UK, USA

Of these, 23 were from personalized donor pools located in USA, UK, Canada, Israel, Brazil, Switzerland .

Below are the sponsors who saved lives this month, with the total number of transplants done by their donor pool.

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ABS Settlement Donor Pool 10 lives saved!
Adiram Donor Pool 1 life saved!
Anonymous CF Donor Pool 12 lives saved!
René & Susanne Braginsky Donor Pool 3 lives saved!
Brazil Community Donor Pool 126 lives saved – 4 this month!
Damaghi Family Donor Pool 45 lives saved!
El-Ad Modiin Community Donor Pool 1 life saved!
bmr 3 18David & Sara Farajun
Donor Pool 102 lives saved – 3 this month!
Hole In One Donor Pool 36 lives saved – 2 this month!
Hope4Adam Donor Pool 3 lives saved – 2 this month!
Charles Kushner Foundation Donor Pool 7 lives saved!
Michael & Evelyn Levy Donor Pool 1 life saved!
Neal & Nicci Menashe Family Donor Pool 2 lives saved!
bmr 3 18 cIsrael & Edith Pollak Donor Pool 15 lives saved!
Ira & Ingeborg Rennert Donor Pool 136 lives saved!
Sakhaie Family Donor Pool 1 life saved!

 

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Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak Part 3 of a Three Part Series

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Rav Chollak speaking at a retreat for cancer patients and their families

The many tragedies that Rabbi Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion, is exposed to in the course of his work did not immunize him against the personal tragedy that struck: About three years ago, Leah, his wife and the mother of his sixteen children, passed away after battling cancer. She was 57. From the start, the doctors had said that for her kind of cancer, you can usually stretch things out for about eight years. Sadly, it did not take even that long; she died a little over a year later.

“I have been asked difficult questions,” says Rav Chollak, “For instance: You and your wife took care of so many sick people, and now, she herself succumbed to the illness. Do you feel any anger? Continue reading Behind the Scenes at Ezer Mizion with its Founder, Chananya Chollak Part 3 of a Three Part Series

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So, So Much More

Written by an Ezer Mizion volunteer who gained more than she gave during the months that she sat at Leah’s bedside.candle

We stood at the door, needy and poor

Searched for words, but none would appear.

For you, Leah, mere words could never express,

Just a hot and glistening tear.

For whatever we’d say, any words we’d outpour

You were so, so much more…

You were so, so much more…

 

A mother and daughter, sister and wife,

Your “flock” always there at your side,

With devotion and will, and always so calm,

Your children you gently would guide.

 

You had such a pure and pleasant demeanor,

Your genuine joy captivated.

You knew to be silent, even in pain,

A true inner wholeness radiated

 

I felt your strong image obligating us all,

For we saw a life story of courage,

A tale – short, yet long – from which we must learn,

An epic to urge and encourage.

 

I saw your figure arousing, demanding –

So simple, yet sincerely so pure.

Teaching: What value has a transient world

Versus Torah heights that endure?

 

I merited seeing how one can and must

Live with rivers of flowing love

For every mitzvah, for each creature,

And for the Creator above.

I had a walking textbook before my eyes,

Of how to feel the pulse of time as it flies.

 

Pearls carefully strung, pieces of life

Stories too many to count,

You were… You said…

You left us a legacy…

A wondrous lifetime account.

 

Volunteering at your bedside was a privilege indeed,

Your radiant character inspiring,

Days and nights, how you hoped and believed,

I was awed by your faith, never tiring.

 

You lay in your bed, wounded and aching,

Your body, in agony and pain

Yet you did all to give a good feeling, a sweet,

Thanking us again and again.

 

As the sand in your hourglass neared to its end,

You knew how to utilize your time.

To inquire about our new job, a shidduch to suggest,

As if you were feeling in your prime.

 

Your modesty was rare, O, what a loss!

You were a sacrifice, for the rest to atone.

They surely rejoiced up Above when you came,

But, Leah, we were left here, alone!

 

We’ve lost mother and daughter, sister and wife,

Our finest, alas, has moved on!

Our heads are bowed, we weep on end,

The “thorns” need their “rose,” but she’s gone…

 

I know that the prayers and the tears that were shed

Carved into our hearts their impression

They built and transformed, worked wonders indeed,

With their painful, yet penetrating lesson.

 

For, we, too, want to be pure as were you,

To rise above matter, beyond “why”

And, like Leah, to amass innumerable merits,

To lead a life of truth, to try.

 

The final lines, the music fades,

The tears are reluctantly dried.

I’ve written and shared, yet my words cannot paint

Your greatness – I’m just not qualified

 

No, I just couldn’t capture your towering image,

Not your life, nor the secret of who you are.

All we can do is to learn and to yearn

To be like you, though we are so far.

 

See, Leah, the fruits of your labor,

The light that you kindled still glows

It continues to shine and illuminate

The Kiddush Hashem yet grows.

 

The paths that you blazed, rare in their beauty

Many more will yet tread them again,

For this path is not far, it’s within our reach

Yisgadal v’yiskadash shmei rabbah,” Amen.

 

 

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The Boeing Corporation Saves Lives

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David Ivry

Can one even begin to imagine the helplessness of being in a plane thousands of feet in the air when the plane is no longer responding to the control mechanisms? You  – a tiny speck in the vast sky –  and the hitherto dependable controls now no more than bits of disconnected metal and plastic… alone… exposed…powerless. David Ivry, former Israel Ambassador to the United States, the ninth commander of the Israel Air Force and the first director of the Israel’s National Security Council was a man used to being in control. Yet, he tells of his experience in the scenario described above. “It seemed to be all over. Then I remembered I had one chance: the ejection seat. I used it and I was saved.” Continue reading The Boeing Corporation Saves Lives

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